Wednesday, September 16, 2009

You Shake My Nerves and You Rattle My Brain…

In California, you find a Carl’s, Jr. or an In-and-Out Burger on almost every corner. Never have eaten at either of these chains, we thought that we would try one while in Visalia. But our campground host had other ideas.

“If you want a good burger,” she said, “go to Main Street Café.” So before leaving Visalia, we had to take her advice and present ourselves at Main Street Café for a good hamburger.

This small restaurant is a homage to the 50’s diner with red and white checked table cloths, and black and white tiled floor, posters depicting 50’s movies and their stars, and a print depicting James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis (no last name required), and Humphrey Bogart sitting in old theater seats. And playing on the juke box is classic 50’s music.

Is that Jerry Butler and Betty Everett I hear singing Let it Be Me?

For a small restaurant, the menu was large. But we had come to eat hamburgers, so only paid attention to that part of the menu. And the Main Street Café lists seventeen burger choices all made with Angus beef. And most of the menu items were named for 50’s era songs. Hokey? Yes. But it added to the appeal.

Chuck decided on the Classic Burger with a side of potato salad. And for an appetizer, he ordered an eight inch hot dog (the Hound Dog) with a side of fries.

Is that the Diamonds singing Little Darlin’ I hear playing on the juke box?

Chuck ordered his hot dog plain – no onions, no mustard, and certainly no catsup (a mortal sin in the hot dog world). The hot dog was very juicy and not overly seasoned (to me a sign of trying to hide inferior meat) and not overly smoky. The fries were good – not too thin, not too thick, and not greasy.

His Classic Burger was the only “plain” hamburger on the menu and only came with tomato, red onion, and a pickle wedge. The burger was cooked medium as ordered and tasted of good beef. The potato salad, dusted with paprika, was first rate with a dressing that tasted of sour cream mixed with the mayo.

Are they now playing So Fine by the Fiestas?

Having finally recovered from my experience with the Whoopass Burger in Springdale, Utah, I was ready to take on a challenge. So it would be the Great Balls of Fire burger with a side of slaw for me. Besides, I was always a fan of Jerry Lee Lewis’ music. Yes, I know that he married his second wife twenty-three days before his divorce from wife Number One was final. And yes, I know that wife Number Three was his first cousin once removed and only thirteen (Lewis was almost twenty-three).

How was the Great Balls of Fire? With apologies to Jerry Lee for this rewrite: Too much heat drives a man insane. You broke my will, oh, what a thrill. Goodness gracious, great balls of fire.

My half pound burger came with the standard condiments of tomato and red onion. The fire came from pickled jalapenos, pepper jack cheese, and a “special” spicy sauce. Can I tell you that this sandwich was spicy? Real spicy. I looked at Chuck and exclaimed: “Goodness gracious, my mouth is on fire.” So spicy that I admitted defeat and removed a good portion of the jalapenos. Too many jalapenos. And I think that pickled jalapenos are hotter than raw jalapenos. Once the burger had shed about a third of the peppers it was delicious. And the slaw was a mix of cabbage and carrot in a light dressing.

This was an enjoyable lunch and merits 4.0 Addies. Now if the juke box had only played Whole Lotta' Shakin’ Goin’ On.

So as the sun set slowly in the west, we bid a fond farewell to a very interesting city, Visalia, CA, and headed south.

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